Gov. Phil Murphy toured the first of six New Jersey COVID-19 vaccine “mega-sites,” which opened today in Rockaway. The 30,000-square-foot Morris County Regional Vaccination Center, formerly the site of a Sears and shopping mall, is capable of administering 2,400 vaccines per day, seven days a week.
Around 100 people are expected to get vaccinated at the facility today, and according to State Police Sgt. Marc Pellegrino, about 1,000 people per week will get the vaccine initially. He added that officials hope to see that number bump up closer to 2,400 per day over the next several weeks, as supply from the federal government increases.
“We don’t have the supply from the feds that we need, there’s just no question about that,” Murphy said. “I like everything we’re doing inside the state to get prepared, things like today. But we don’t have the doses that we ultimately could use when we’re at full capacity. This is going to take some time.”
As of now, all sworn law enforcement and fire professionals in New Jersey are eligible to receive the vaccine as part of the vaccination eligibility Phase 1B. EMS professionals, also considered first responders, are already eligible for the vaccine under Phase 1A as healthcare workers.
State Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said the site could be opened for the general public by May. “These megasites will be able to handle a large volume of individuals as we continue to move through eligible phases of vaccination toward the general public,” she said.
“When we’re ready to move forward, this site will serve as one of six mega-sites for the general public to receive their vaccinations,” Murphy added. “With hundreds of thousands of pre-registrations already received, we know there will be a strong demand when that day arrives.”
The first floor of the Morris County site features 20 vaccine stations, some of which are behind curtains for privacy. Several areas are marked off for vaccine recipients to wait 10 or 15 minutes while being observed for any side effects.
A second mega-site is also opening Friday at Rowan College of South Jersey in Gloucester County. The remaining sites are expected to open in the coming days and are located in Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, and Middlesex counties.
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